BLIMEY. I have been on Twitter for four years.
That’s 1,460 days – with the odd break for sleeping and going to the loo – of staring at what a bunch of people I have never and will never meet have got to say about the way bread ‘sings’ when it comes out of the oven, equal marriage, Crufts, the slow death of HMV, the roadworks on my street, and a long-gone pub on Sauchiehall Street where the staff apparently wore tennis whites (to pick a recent week at random on my Twitter feed).
During these four years I have composed 5,385 tweets or, if you want to get all University Challenge about it, 753,900 characters. Some might call all of this micro-pontificating a bit pointless; basically the time-waster’s equivalent of setting fire to fivers. Granted, it’s not quite War and Peace. And yet... I can’t help but feel proud of myself.
To travel back to those sepia days of 2009 is an oddly nostalgic business. The past, after all, is a different country. In this case, a country to which I am not permitted entry. For the purposes of, ahem, research, I attempted to return to my very first tweet – delivered to an audience of none, if I remember rightly. But my feed mysteriously stops at 7 July 2011. It’s as though the internet won’t permit history. We must look forward, troops, or should I say twoops, for there is no going back.
Actually, my tweet of 7 July is about the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. Which is still being investigated. This is one of many things that Twitter teaches us. Life is breathless, disjointed, full of incessant chatter, cruelty, cleverness, and surprise. A bit like a Dickens novel. Yet nothing much changes at all.
To condense these 140-character musings further, a lot has happened between then and now. I trawl through tweets about the Olympics and pandas, the Edinburgh Festival and the London riots, Madonna coming to Murrayfield and the trams never coming to Leith, the deaths of Amy Winehouse and Ravi Shankar... It’s an idiosyncratic potted history, to be sure, but skewed, messy, imperfect history all the same. Some of it is personal too. Like the time the Hoff came into Spectrum Towers and all hell (and, judging by the screaming, a few pairs of knickers) broke loose. Or the time Ma R was in hospital after her mastectomy and I tweeted saying I was having a horrific day. Instantly, some of my followers came back saying ‘sorry’, ‘hope you’re okay’ or just ‘poor you’. Turns out the kindness of strangers works virtually too.
If there is any consistency in my feed it’s my playing of the Friday #bookgame. I’ve devoted more time to this than I have to entire relationships. You’re given a theme such as #bookkitchen, and you riff on it until you die. Like, for example, The Grated Gatsby. Or Tinker Tailor Soldier Pie... or Are You There God, It’s Me Margarine... see what I mean? It never ends. #helpme
Twitter works on two levels simultaneously. On the one hand, it is anonymous. We can say what we want to who we want. On the other hand, it is touchingly intimate. It’s like a night in the pub that never ends, with hashtags instead of hangovers. It is a mirror held up to our own reflections, as much as society. And you know what? I like what I see *preens self*.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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